On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Come, honoured guest
Jesus invites you to this table
For each and all
Jesus saves a space
Meet Christ here
And prepare to be challenged, rebuked or cajoled
Prepare to be comforted, embraced and held high
The Christ who makes room for you
Knows your story
And makes room for you in love
We gather around this table today
as Jesus did with his disciples in the Upper room
the night before he died.
Sharing fellowship with them,
knowing their stories,
He took bread, broke it and passed it among them saying:
This is my body broken for you
Do this to remember me.
He took the cup and shared it with them, saying:
A new relationship with God is possible because of my death
Drink this all of you to remember me.
And so we take bread and a cup today to remember him and to celebrate the new relationship that we have with God and with one another.
We share this sacrament in a place filled with stories, some shared, some held tight within.
Stories of our lives and of those who have shared in this space
in years gone by.
This sacrament unites us all, past, present and future, in the one who holds all our stories and invites us all to places of honour at the table.
So let us give thanks for the feast.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
God we thank you for inviting us to your table today
making space for each of us
treating us as honoured guests.
We thank you that you hold each of our stories gently
beaming at our joys
frowning at our concerns
full of compassion
and overflowing with love.
May we know your comfort stealing into the hurts that we carry
May we know your healing, soothing those pains that catch us unawares
And may we know your smile, lingering to light up all our dark corners.
Held so gently by you may we hold gently all whom you welcome to your table today.
God the way you make room for all is so at odds with the world in which we live.
Where we make distinctions-
Worthy or unworthy
Mighty or lowly
Valued or worthless
Prominent or invisible.
Forgive us for the distinctions we make and for the restrictions we place on your love and on your hospitality.
Help us to re- set the table, time and again until there truly is space for all.
We pray for our world in turmoil.
For all your children there whose sufferings become platforms from which Politicians can posture.
God of peace, when will we ever learn that violence will not bring resolution but only more suffering and death?
We pray too for all those places that have dropped out of the media spotlight because the circus has moved on.
For Egypt, for Iran and Iraq, for Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, for Haiti and Japan - and countless other places where your children continue to be affected by poverty, by war, by the ravages of nature, where loss is simply a fact of life in a world desensitised to suffering on such a scale.
God grant us perspective.
To know that we never have to compete for your love and acceptance.
And so we can afford to share your infinite love with those in our daily lives and with those we may never meet, all part of your family and so part of us too.
Renew our sense of connectedness and increase our resolve to widen our horizons globally and locally until all are truly welcome, until all are raised up and fed and until you are known in our sharing of bread.
Space making God may we make space for others.
Table setting God may we always be prepared to revise our table plans
Feast loving God may we feast with you and with all your saints in heaven and on earth.
So may we know your Spirit here, transforming this bread and wine and transforming us to serve you this day.
For the sake of your kingdom.
Among friends, gathered round a table,
Jesus took bread, he broke it and shared it saying:
This is my body broken for you
Eat this bread to remember me
He took the cup, saying:
This is my blood shed for you
Drink this cup to remember me.
We remember Christ as honoured guests invited to a feast.
Gods gifts for all.
God as we have shared table fellowship with you and with each other, may we be careful of the honour you give us, not in a way that holds it close but in a way that opens up your gifts and spreads your love throughout the world.
As we have feasted in joy with your saints in heaven may we dine in sorrow with your children on earth until we come to share in your kingdom of peace and justice and love.
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